book review

A Strong, Inspiring Female Lead | The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

Friday, January 22, 2021

 The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

P
ublisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: 10/2/18
Pages: 450
Source: purchased

A year after an accidentally whirlwind grand tour with her brother Monty, Felicity Montague has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators, who see men as the sole guardians of science. But then a window of opportunity opens—a doctor she idolizes is marrying an old friend of hers in Germany. Felicity believes if she could meet this man he could change her future, but she has no money of her own to make the trip. Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid. In spite of her suspicions, Felicity agrees, but once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that leads them from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.
All Felicity wants in life is to study medicine in a proper setting, to learn from the best professionals in the field. She moved to Scotland to have the most opportunities to apply as a student. However, each board of directors say the same thing: “Unfortunately, you can’t study here. You’re a woman.” Felicity is so tired of being turned away. When she gets news that her idol, the famed Dr. Alexander Platt, is leaving for an expedition and might take her on, Felicity may have stumbled on some good luck, after all. The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee is the wonderful companion to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.

Mixed Reviews

  • Going into The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, I was a bit hesitant. There are quite a few mixed reviews on the book. And while reading The Gentleman's Guide, I always seemed to find Felicity rather annoying and mean. The Lady’s Guide follows Felicity’s story after the events of The Gentleman's Guide. As much as I would have loved Lee to have picked up right where she left off, The Lady’s Guide takes place a few months after the ending of the previous book. 

Shining Characters

  • Mackenzi Lee wowed me with her superb writing in The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue. The historical backdrop makes for a lovely drama. Her characters have always felt contemporary—not only from their tone and perspective but because Lee makes all her characters extremely relatable.
  • Monty and Percy make an appearance. And despite Monty being a shining star, he doesn’t upstage Felicity in her own novel which is a feat. They were my favorite characters from the previous book so it was delightful to check in on them to see what they've been up to since the Tour.
  • Felicity’s dream is to study medicine. She has had such a trying time of it too—because she is a woman in a historical society, it is difficult to make this dream of hers come true. The repetition of her inner monologue of "I am a woman. I am capable" starts out empowering but becomes a bit repetitive. Felicity shows time and time again that she is certainly capable of becoming a doctor as she stitches up her comrades with no trouble whatsoever, etc. Readers could do without the constant reminder of her inner voice when we've have already seen it for ourselves.
  • Despite the repetition, her drive is quite admirable and inspiring. Felicity is determined to become a doctor, in any way possible. She travels a long way for the chance and continues to surprise readers at how far she is willing to go for her dream. She is also a fantastic role model for young girls.
  • Johanna is introduced as Felicity’s childhood friend and Dr. Platt’s fiancé. She is my new favorite character in this one. Joanna is a woman of her time, yet doesn’t let societal rules stifle her. She is feminine, yet headstrong and intelligent. Her character opens up a few discussions in the difference of opinions on gender equality. I adored her throughout the novel. 

Important Discussions

  • Whereas The Gentleman’s Guide was an epic road trip adventure, The Lady’s Guide speaks volumes to girl power and discusses the strength and rights of women in a world ruled by men. This theme may take place in a historical society of the 1700s but it will also strike home to readers at its timeliness.
  • Lee brings more to her discussion on gender roles in the author’s note which is certainly a must read. She breaks down each aspiration the female leads had, giving readers a look of real-life history. Lee also makes a few book recommendations to find out more on each subject—you can bet I'll be checking out the pirate book she mentions! 
  • Despite the title giving it away, there are pirates. However, they aren't formally introduced until past the halfway point which is rather disappointing. Though the wait for them to appear is certainly worth it as Lee enchants us with a new take on pirates. In The Lady’s Guide, pirates are the sort to protect their sea boundaries and all that live within their waters. And, of course, threaten those who come too close. Lee opens another discussion here, this time about environmentalism and the importance of protecting rare wildlife. Despite the lack of pillaging and plunder from the pirates, there are some well-written action sequences abroad the ships!

Time to Say Goodbye, Or Is It?

  • Both Monty and Felicity will always have a place in my heart—as well as all the amazing side characters of these books: Scipio, Sim, Johanna, and Percy. Mackenzi Lee has created such a fantastic adventure series. 
  • While I thought there weren't any more siblings, Mackenzi Lee has surprised us with another installment of the Montague Siblings series, which I'm eagerly anticipating. It's set to release in November of 2021 (but the date has been pushed back so many times that it may even change again, though I hope not). I am looking forward to hearing what the siblings have been up to!

Overall

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee was, unfortunately, not as good as The Gentleman’s Guide. However, comparison aside, this book has the ability to move mountains—it begins such fantastic discussions, creates an inspiring role model for readers, and the superb writing makes for some amazing scenes! 



Top Ten Tuesday

10 Books I Meant to Read in 2020 But Didn't

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

I read a total of 120 books last year and even so, I still missed out on a few that I definitely meant to get to. I kept telling myself that I would read them before the end of the year. And now that the end of the year has passed us by, I still haven’t read these books. They’re all just staring at me from their shelves, waiting to be read. Hopefully, I’ll get to them this year.


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's topic is: Top 10 Books I Meant to Read in 2020 But Didn't:


Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare: I’m a bit behind in the Shadowhunter universe. My goal for last year was to finish the two anthologies that take place before The Dark Artifices, this series, and then read this one. I was able to finish The Bane Chronicles and The Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy but couldn’t fit Lady Midnight in my reading schedule. I’ve heard so many amazing things about these books so I'm definitely excited to start the series!

Little Woman by Louisa May Alcott: How embarrassing that I had this book on this list last year too! My goal last year was to read the book and see the movie when it was still in theaters. In the pandemic, I actually missed Little Women in theaters and will have to rent the DVD instead. However, I’m most determined to get this read this year.

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo: I’ve been meaning to pick up the rest of the Grisha trilogy. I read Shadow and Bone in 2019 and while I really enjoyed it, it definitely wasn’t at the enjoyment level I had when reading the Six of Crows duology. However, the TV series is releasing in April and will have characters from both Shadow and Bones series and Six of Crows duology so I need to finish the trilogy before then.


The Cruel Prince by Holly Black: It seems there is always someone talking about this book series and I’m interested to read it to find what all the buzz is about. I know it’s about rude fairies and there’s a romance, I think. We shall have to see!

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson: I’ve been meaning to read this retelling of Jack the Ripper for years. I adore Johnson’s writing and can’t wait to read this one. Plus, this is the first book in a trilogy so if I end up liking it, there’s a few more to read as well.

Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockingsmith: The prequel of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is actually the oldest book on my shelves (haul date-wise, not age-wise) and I was hoping to read it last year. I had a brilliant plan to read books that have been on my shelves since 2011 but 2020 turned out to be more of a mood reading year than anything else. I did read a few books that I hauled in 2011, but I definitely want to get to this one and some others.


House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas: I usually don’t add new releases to lists like this because I’m read backlist throughout the year anyway so that-year’s-releases tend to get pushed to the next year. However, this was one 2020 release that I truly wanted to devour. Now that I have a copy of my own, the size is quite daunting which is why I haven’t picked it up yet, but hopefully soon!

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers: I put this book on so many of my monthly TBRs and I still didn’t read it. The publisher even did a read-along for the entire series and revamped the covers last year and I was so stoked to participate but I missed it. :( This one sounds like a YA fantasy that I will love! The protagonist is an assassin that works for Death himself—that sounds so fantastic!

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West: I usually try to finish a book written by West every year but somehow I missed reading a book by her in 2020. I will just have to remedy this in 2021, starting with Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss which is a sequel/companion to Life, Love, and the List.


The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon: I was going to wait until more of the books in the series released before I read this one but so many people on Instagram and Youtube were chatting about this one and I just want to know what they hype is all about. I’ve had this one my shelf since it released and really meant to read it last year when a few read-alongs were occurring but I missed picking it up. 2021 is certainly the year to read all the fantasy that have been sitting on my shelves for forever!

What book did you mean to read last year but didn't?

book tag

The TBR Book Tag (2021)

Thursday, January 14, 2021

I haven’t done a tag in a long time and I thought today would be a good day! I saw this one over at Angela’s Musings of a Literary Wanderer a few years ago and bookmarked it to do at a later date. I adore talking about my TBR as much as I adore reading from it. 


When I saw a whole book tag that discusses books I want to read, I knew I wanted to give it a go. Plus, this tag’s questions are rather versatile so I could always revisit in a year from now and most of the questions will probably be different. Here’s the TBR book tag:

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

I keep track of my TBR a couple of ways. I use a personal Excel spreadsheet that I’ve created that keeps track of every single book I own and what books I have on my to-read list. On Goodreads, I’ve made my to-read, exclusively, books I own that I have yet to read (and I also have a considering shelf that houses books I do not own or that aren’t out yet that I want to read as well). I also use Libib, which is a digital library database, to keep track of all the books on my TBR. I love Libib because you can rate books with half stars!

Is your TBR pile mostly print or e-book?

My TBR is mostly print. E-books usually take me ages to complete so I tend to prefer print.

A book that has been on your TBR for the longest?


Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith: According to Goodreads, it looks like I hauled this book on February 9, 2011. This year, I’m trying to make it a priority to read some of the books that have been on my shelves for the longest so I should definitely start with this one. Dawn of the Dreadfuls is the prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

A book that you recently added to your TBR pile?


I just added Fable by Adrienne Young to my physical TBR and I can’t wait to read it. I wouldn’t have even picked this one up if it wasn’t for the hype. Because of the hype, I found out that there’s pirates and thieves and just everything that I adore! As for my digital TBR (which includes books to be released or books that are out but I don’t own), I just added Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant (Jane the Virgin meets Lara Jean, need I say more?!). A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee isn’t even released yet (can’t wait until August 2021!) but I also just added it; it's about a haunted boarding school and a mystery that’s waiting to be uncovered.

A book in your TBR pile strictly because of its beautiful cover?


I initially purchased The Antidote by Shelley Sackier because of it’s gorgeous cover but I keep it on my shelf because it sounds like an amazing fantasy! As for my digital TBR, The Wide Starlight by Nicole Lesperance (releases February 16) and Ever Cursed by Corey Ann Haydu both have fantastic covers and also sound fantastic!

A book on your TBR that you never plan to read?


If the book has made it to my physical TBR (books that I physically own), I will most definitely be reading it. As for my digital TBR, I frequently add or remove books from the list. Most simply, my tastes change from time to time so I go in and take out books that I’m not really interested in anymore. Currently, I’m thinking about removing Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia from my TBR, based on other reviews I’ve read—it just doesn’t sound like something I would enjoy.

An unpublished book on your TBR that you're excited for?


Every single one of them. I recently made a blog post of all the 2021 books I’m excited for. A few you won’t find on the list because I just discovered them: Wench by Maxine Kaplan (1/19/21), The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (7/13/21), and The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (9/16/21).

A book on your TBR that everyone has read but you?


It seems like everyone has read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab and either loved it or hated it. I still haven’t read The Cruel Prince by Holly Black which is something I plan to remedy this year. Also, so many of the people I follow on social media have already read House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?


Last year, quite a few people recommended The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune to me. Also, some of my friends keep telling me to read Save the Date by Morgan Matson and Crave by Tracy Wolff. Hopefully, I’ll get to all of these soon!

A book on your TBR you're dying to read?


I can’t wait to read these! I’ve been in a contemporary romance mood lately so I’ve got my eye on The Perfect Escape by Suzanne Park which is a co-worker romance that takes place at a zombie-themed escape room! On the fantasy side, I am so ready to devour There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool. As for series, I’m hoping to finish the conclusion to The Honors trilogy soon, Honor Lost by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre.

How many books are on your TBR?


I changed this question a little bit to read “how many on your TBR” rather than “how many on your Goodreads TBR” since I use my Goodreads shelves as a catch-all TBR. So, I know it’s quite a lot and I’m working on trying to get the number down. Hopefully, by this time next year, I will have a significantly lower number on my TBR. Physically, my TBR is roughly 315 books. I acquire these books primarily second-hand at thrift shops or as gifts from friends. Digitally, my TBR is at 155 books, which includes books that haven’t been published yet and other books I am thinking about reading. Ideally, I’d rather not be drowning in my TBR so this year is the year to read more of my owned TBR and attempt to get it down to less than 100. Wish me luck!

What about your TBR? What book are you most excited to read next? How many books do you have in your TBR pile?

book review

Epic Historical Mystery | Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Friday, January 08, 2021

 Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco


Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: 9/20/16
Pages: 327
Source: purchased
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life. Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world. The story's shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling, #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.
Audrey Rose is an apprentice, conducting autopsies and creating medical records. All she has ever wanted is to learn science and under the mentorship of her uncle, she is able to put her scalpel to the test. When a serial killer starts murdering woman on the streets of England, Audrey Rose takes it upon herself to solve the case. With the help of Thomas Cresswell, an infuriating student of her uncle’s, Audrey Rose delves deeper into the case of Jack the Ripper.

Great Characters

  • Audrey Rose is a woman ahead of her time. She is strong, witty, and hard to ignore. Her deduction skills and intelligence is magnificent. She is not afraid to speak her mind. Despite society trying to hold women back, her forward thinking is incredibly fresh in the historical genre.
  • Since Audrey Rose is so invested in the case of Jack the Ripper, readers barely get much back story that doesn’t pertain to her or her family. In turn, it leaves Thomas and a few other supporting characters rather mysterious. It's quite clever of Maniscalco to develop her characters in such a way as it creates additional twists to the already action-packed and intriguing plot. Unfortunately, though, Stalking Jack the Ripper was a bit slow in the beginning as the case began to find its footing and the characters learned more of their suspects and victims.

A Flirtatious Romance

  • The romance is a bit clichéd and rather predictable since the beginning of the book. Audrey Rose finds Thomas immediately insufferable with his bright mind and obnoxious attitude. And surprisingly, she lets him know at every turn. How his insufferable character turns to admiration is anyone’s guess; however, it is undeniably entertaining, no matter how cliché.
  • The conversations between Audrey Rose and Thomas are filled with jabs and sass that will make you laugh out loud.

The Unsolved Case of Jack the Ripper

  • Jack the Ripper is an unsolved case that has stumped even geniuses through time. It was interesting to see the facts of the case arise in the fictional tale, Stalking Jack the Ripper. All readers should definitely read the Author’s Note in the back of the book. Maniscalco mentions some of the facts of the case and the liberties taken to write a seamless, coherent plot. It is truly remarkable how Maniscalco flawlessly tells her story within the scope of truth. Her writing is absolutely amazing. 
  • I think Stalking Jack the Ripper is one of those books that on a reread, readers will be able to point out several things they missed the first time around. Therefore, on the first read, I adored how the story unfolded, the characters were relatable and the writing magnificent. However, if I were to reread it, I think I would appreciate all that from the first time through and more. 

Overall

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco solves a fictional case of epic proportions. Despite a slow start, the book picks up in an otherwise action-packed plot.


Stalking Jack the Ripper (9/20/16): 4 stars
Hunting Prince Dracula (9/19/17): TBA
Escaping From Houdini (9/18/18): TBA
Capturing the Devil (9/10/19): TBA

best of 2020

Bookish Goals for the New Year (2021)

Friday, January 01, 2021

 Happy New Year! 2020 is finally over! It hasn’t been the best year so I am excited to say that it is behind us. I have a few goals this year that I hope to accomplish. Surprisingly, I passed most of my goals last year so I decided to try to complete them again this year too. This year, I’ll also be working through my graduate program which may affect my reading. Still, I’m hoping for the best and by the end of the year, I can look back at this post and see how well I really did! Here’s my bookish goals for the new year:


Read at least 50 books

This goal remains a constant every year. Sometimes it’s easy to surpass, sometimes I have some difficulty. I finished 2020 off with … books read so while I went into last year concerned that I wouldn’t reach it because I schoolwork, I still surprised myself. I suppose it depends on what courses I’m taking and the workload that comes with each. As long as I read at least 50 books, I’ll count it a success.

Buy less books

While I truly wanted last year to be the year I practice shelf control, I did not. In fact, I surpassed the amount purchased and acquired from 2019 as well. Hopefully, I can buy less books this year and acquire less books as well. 

Read at least 3 classics

I did so well in reading a bunch of classics last year in 2020. I have to admit that is because of the 100 Epic Reads of a Lifetime poster I was gifted at the end of 2019. Getting to scratch off classics and other books have really helped me stay on track throughout the year. Still, I would love to read some more classics this year. Here’s the three I hope to get to:


David Copperfield by Charles Dickens | Little Women by Louisa May Alcott | Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Read at least 6 Epic Reads of a Lifetime

My brother got me this lovely scratch-off poster of 100 Epic Reads of a Lifetime for Christmas in 2019, like I mentioned. I’ve been working on it ever since, choosing my tbr so I get to scratch off at least one per month. I still have a bunch of books to read from the poster. To keep myself accountable, I want to try to read at least 6 of the books. Here’s the 6 I hope to read:


Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro | And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie | The Giver by Lois Lowry


Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut | A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin | Dune by Frank Herbert

Finish at least 6 series

I’m so thankful that I decided to lower this goal last year from 12 series to 6 because I would have never reached 12. Once again, I decided to keep the goal at 6 series to make it more reachable for me as a graduate student. Am I the only one who can’t seem to read the last book in the series? I just don’t want some series to end so if I never read the finale, it’ll never end. 😊 Here’s the series I hope to finally finish this year:


The Honors by Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine (1 book left) | Slayer by Kiersten White (1 book left) | Don Tillman by Graeme Simsion (1 book left)


Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (2 books left) | Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (3 books left) | The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd (2 books left)

What are your bookish goals for 2021?